Trans-south Asian road, rail net­work to be re­al­ity

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Jayanth Ja­cob and Moushumi Das Gupta let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEW DELHI: Break­fast in Am­rit­sar, lunch in La­hore, din­ner in Kabul and throw in sunny beaches of Sri Lanka and Bhutan’s Gross Na­tional Hap­pi­ness -- you have a per­fect hol­i­day planned. And, it could hap­pen for real if the cur­rent sea­son of In­dia-Pak­istan good­will holds.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s sur­prise Christ­mas Day stopover in La­hore has breathed fresh life into frosty bi­lat­eral ties and also fu­elled hope that the two neigh­bours will fi­nally get go­ing on an agree­ment that will al­low seam­less move­ment of peo­ple and goods in the Saarc re­gion.

Af­ter months of dis­rup­tions, In­dia is will­ing to host a meet­ing of the trans­port sec­re­taries of all South Asian As­so­ci­a­tion for Re­gional Co­op­er­a­tion (Saarc) coun­tries. It will be fol­lowed up by a trans­port min­is­ters’ meet with re­newed hope of rolling out a re­gional mo­tor ve­hi­cles agree­ment (MVA) at the ear­li­est.

“Saarc ini­tia­tives of­ten fum­ble be­cause of the prob­lem be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan. If they work to­gether, it is good for the re­gion,” said a south Asian diplo­mat posted in New Delhi.

If all goes well, agree­ments for mo­tor and rail travel across the Saarc coun­tries – In­dia, Pak­istan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Mal­dives – may be signed at the next sum­mit in 2016, when Modi is sched­uled to travel to Pak­istan.

CON­TIN­UED ON P7

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